The Paradox Of Electronic “Communications” and “Social” Media

Ever notice how despite our world being more wired than ever before, people still don’t want to keep in touch even though we have all this technology that makes it so easy?  I sure have, and that was my most recent topic when I hopped on the mic for my latest RadioStyle segment on YouTube.  😛

I mentioned some other videos too and decided to write up a companion blog entry for the video which will be linked in the video description on YouTube.  Here are links to some of the other videos I mentioned.  🙂

First, Brittney “Nikki” Cleary’s “I.M. Me” song, now on Vimeo, from the days when AIM ruled the world.  🙂

Then there’s “Social Media Revolution 2011”, a recent video where I first heard the idea back during Facebook’s heyday that with how unstoppable Facebook seemed before the IPO, Timeline, etc., that youngsters could easily consider e-mail to be old school.

Lastly, just for fun, here’s MySpace: The Movie and Facebook: The Movie.  🙂




If You Ever Thought Idiots Ran America, You Were Probably Right ;-)

Ahh the joys of September in an election year.  Mudslinging’s in full force, along with the usual mass-suckerization that goes on in American politics these days.  I was reminded of that thought-up-on-the-spot term (mass-suckerization) when independent candidate T.J. O’Hara posted a little something on Facebook that caught my eye:

“Political billboards, bumper stickers, and yard signs suggest that you’ll cast your vote on name recognition alone.  Are you insulted yet?”

Ha!  Couldn’t have said it better myself, because earlier this year I actually was thinking about just how much America’s electoral system caters to morons.  😛

So.  What are CNN, CSPAN, and other political junkies all across the country going to be talking about between now and Election Day?  Swing voters, independents, and “states in play.”  Why?  Ever wonder why it seems like news organizations beeline towards rather small chunks of the voters in this country when it comes time to elect a president?

Well of course that would be because of how the system works.  Politicians have this thing for manipulating people, and what better targets to go for than the bozos who don’t half know anything that’ll vote for someone if they like their smile or wear a nice enough tie.  😛  Basically, here’s how it works.  You have your Liberals and Conservatives who actually know what they believe and why they believe it and will stick like glue to their party lines.  If you’re Joe Generic Politician, you won’t care about these ideologues because the more cemented views they have on issues the harder they’ll be to convince to change sides.  If they’re on your side, you can bet they’ll stay so no need to cater to them too much, and if they’re on the other side, it’ll be a lot of work.  However, those people in the middle on the other hand…..  😉

Yeah, that’s where this emphasis on swing voters and Independents comes from.  The people who don’t stick rigidly to a party platform or care about politics at all have as much a vote as the most educated hardline liberals and conservatives in the country, so when it comes to getting the most votes why even bother trying to make people on the other side switch sides when they could just convince people in the middle to take their side instead?  Little wonder that the two dominant parties here in the states are moderates who carve up the middle, though I do think a pragmatic Centrist organization like the Modern Whig movement could mess that up quite a bit if it ever got big enough.  Other Western democracies have a Centrist party complementing the left and right wingers so I don’t see why we couldn’t end up with a three party system in this country, but that’s another discussion for another day.  🙂

Now, the big question.  With all we’ve discussed, who REALLY runs this country?  The President?  Nah.  Somebody has to vote a President into office.  Who among the voters really has the most say in swinging election results and determining this country’s course of action?

That’s right, the undecideds who get carved up by the Democrats and Republicans to tip the vote balance in their favor.  😛  The ancient Greeks who we get our inspiration for democracy from would roll over in their graves if they knew of what this country has done with this system.  😛  In their day, idiotes (where we get our word idiot from  :-P) were folks who abstained from being involved in public affairs.  These folks knew what made democracy work, namely people having a clue what they were doing when they voted for someone.

Now contrast that to today, where it seems like everywhere we turn there are movements to register voters who are as clueless and pliable as possible, like all these “youth vote” events to try to get naive teenagers to register to vote and go out and vote.  John Stossel had the right idea.  If folks have no clue what they’re doing they should probably skip it until they had a clue what was going on, but don’t expect politicians to get on board with that anytime soon.  Can’t have them actually having to hustle to get votes now can we?  😉

…and so the march of the bobbleheads to the voting booths will continue, and for those of us who actually know what’s going on, it’ll be all the more reason to be concerned about the future of this country.  :-\

Stupid Things People Do In The 21st Century

So The Consumerist ran a story about some bozo at this past week’s Democratic National Convention who in the heat of a politically-charged moment flashed her Medicare card in the air in front of the TV cameras putting her Social Security number on national television.  Seriously, how stupid can people get?  Sadly though, this is not an isolated incident by any means.  So many people nowadays do really dumb things and then we wonder why things like identity theft are so widespread.  Here’s a few pet peeves of mine that no doubt contribute to this century’s problems with the world being a little too wired.

  • Using Real Names In Online Addresses And Identities – This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people in a spurt of uncreative non-genius decide to go with their real name as their User ID in an e-mail address or on a site like Facebook because they can’t think of anything else.   Seriously now, don’t complain about 21st Century “Stalker Internet Culture” and/or identity theft when somebody can type into their browser and hey look there you are.  😛
  • Mandatory Sensitive Information On Online Job Applications – With most HR recruiters bawling about bazillions of job apps per position these days, it’s utterly appalling that job applications require mandatory Social Security numbers and other sensitive information that ends up being stored on a server for at least 90 days, so all these job hopefuls that are never even considered for a position get to have their SSNs sitting on an app server at a company that might never hire them, and who knows how well that server is maintained in terms of security and updates?  Seriously, compared to systems with customer or employee data, how much priority do you think an application server would get relative to other systems in the company in terms of security and maintenance with your average resource-strangled IT department these days?  Hmmmm…..  :-\
  • Phone Answerers That Are Awful With Credit Card Information – Some small businesses like pizza places in my neck of the woods are trying to be more high-tech these days by allowing you to order pizza with a credit card over the phone.  Unfortunately, like most non-tech people, many of these restaurants do it badly at best.  I’ve seen pizza shops where whoever takes your order repeats every digit you say over the phone out loud.  Yay.  Thank you very much for blurting out my credit card number to everyone within earshot of you.  I think I’ll check a recent transaction log for fraudulent activity now.  😛  The worst case of this that I’ve dealt with involved one place that used a cellular swiper where one night the lady delivering the pizza couldn’t get any signal on the swiper so she called it in on her cellphone and all-but shouted my number and expiration date to the entire neighborhood.  I no longer order from that restaurant.  Coincidence?  😛  Probably the worst example would be pizza places that do all of this AND require CCV codes.  Great, so the person taking my order may say out loud enough information for someone to steal my card, including the CCV code, or may write it down on something which will end up God knows where for someone to steal and make bogus transactions with.  These businesses should quit buying all these new systems if they won’t deploy them properly or educate their people on proper handling of sensitive customer information.
  • Tech-Illiterate Friends And Family Defeating The Purpose Of Online Usernames – This is a common gaffe I see in online gaming where a bunch of folks who know each other in real life play an MMO under usernames and call each other by their real names, sometimes their real surnames (“Well Mr. Smith we sure pwned that raid boss.”).  It just makes me want to cringe.  Seriously, we’re getting to a day and age where soon everybody will have to be like celebrities wearing sunglasses everywhere we go at the rate we’re going.  😛
  • “I Took This Picture, Therefore I Should Immediately Put It On The Internet.”  Remember that crazy party last week where you got drunk off your you-know-what and your friend Jimmy was walking around with a smartphone snapping pictures to treasure that moment forever?  Well it’s the morning after and in the midst of your brain-pounding hangover, hey look, Jimmy put everything on Facebook.  Now your whole family and friends know what a debaucherous drunk you are, but wait, there’s more.  Jimmy has no clue that his privacy settings are set wrong so all kinds of people can see that you’re a crazy drunk now, including the hiring manager of that job you so wanted to get.  You check your voicemail.  “We’ve decided to go with another candidate.”  Right.  These kinds of incidents shouldn’t happen, but sadly they do.  😛
  • Setting Privacy Settings Wrong – Gotta love when websites give people privacy settings but people using said websites can’t be bothered to actually use them.  Then we wonder why we have incidents like this Massachusetts incident from earlier this year where some high school girls’ Facebook photos wound up on a porno site.  :-\
  • Sharing Logins On The Job – One of the biggest problems I faced at my last Fortune 500 job where I got to help out with IT stuff.  Too many people got in trouble for stuff they didn’t do because they found out the hard way that sharing logins doesn’t absolve them from responsibility if the account is misused.  Usually these problems were caused by non-techie supervisors and workers sharing logins because they couldn’t be bothered to wait for IT to finish making logins for new hires, or one person had wireless access on their account and the others didn’t but needed it and the person with access couldn’t be bothered to open tickets for 20 other people to get that access.  All in all, sharing logins in a corporate environment is a shortcut/workaround that’s never worth it.  😛
  • Passwords On Post-It Notes – Hey there non-techie supervisor.  It’s nice that you can’t remember a password for beans, but you should at least pretend to try to hide the Post-It Note with your login information instead of having it sitting on your desk next to your keyboard, or taped under your keyboard.  😛
  • Monkey See Monkey Do On YouTube – Hey look.  All these other people on YouTube are making such and such types of videos.  Shouldn’t you too?  The answer of course is no.  😛  I’ve seen some videos that will no doubt embarrass their creators in a few years, but hey, everyone’s doing it, and after they get embarrassed or called out enough, they can always play the “oh I was just ACTING” card.  Yeah, like we’re supposed to believe you consciously came up with the idea to name a fictional character LOLMadDude250614 before starting your YouTube channel even though you never referenced yourself as a fictional character for the first 150 rant videos until so-and-so called you out.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  😛
  • Forcing People To Say Sensitive Information Out Loud – Okay.  I just stood in line for over a half hour.  Now I’m finally to the front of the line, and I’m supposed to verify my identity by telling you my Social Security number with a line of people standing in back of me.  Really?  Maybe I should wear a bright orange shirt with my SSN on it while I’m at it!
  • Using Sensitive Information As Passwords, Etc. – Hey look.  HR just got this new system thingie online, and our default password is part of or our entire SSN.  Yeah.  Uhhh…. Ever heard of keyloggers?  😛
  • Really Dumb Passwords – Sad to say, there’ve been times where I’ve seen things like “Password” as a password.  Enough said.  😛
  • People Complaining About Password Policies – Yes Mr X.  You work for XYZ Corporation and handle sensitive customer information.  Of course you need to have a password that’s harder than “1234” and will need to change it every few weeks.  Wouldn’t want someone to brute force your account and send a nasty e-mail to your boss under your name now.  😛  Seriously, it’s like a work equivalent of parents saying, “My house – my rules.”  If companies are like “Our systems – our rules” just play along and follow them lol.  😛

I think this has gone on long enough, but it’ll suffice to say, whats-her-name flashing her SSN on her Medicare card at the DNC was only the tip of the iceberg with how people can be so behind the curve on this kind of stuff these days.  😛

“Google And Facebook May Be Gone In 5 Years” – Perhaps Forbes Should Leave The Geek Stuff To Geeks :-P

I realize I’m working on making folks’ eyes bleed with the sheer amount of stuff I’ve written today, but what can I say?  I’m encountering so much stuff today, like this gem from Forbes about how Google and Facebook might be completely gone in the next few years.  😛

A nice attempt at geek analysis of some contemporary geek issues, but unfortunately way off the mark.  What we have here is a little analytical heuristics whereby one thinks just because the last major shift in the Internet had X, Y, and Z occur that this is always how it’s going to work.  Unfortunately, shortcuts like that are quite easily shot down.

Let’s take a look at the analysis of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 that this article presents.  First, it’s very much a given that the difference between the internet of the 1990s and the internet of the 2000s was social interaction.  Nobody should dispute that, but other things were going on during the 2000s too.  The 2000s was probably the Golden Age Of Broadband here in America before all these ISPs started jumping on the capwagon with bandwidth caps, usage-based billing, and an opposition to Net Neutrality.  That was how I picked DSL over Cable back in the day when I first got started with it myself.  AT&T didn’t cap their DSL, and the “neanderthals” at the then-local-business cable company did.  AT&T broadband outages were in minutes while cable outages were in hours around here, so the choice was obvious.  Nowadays though, the cable company has been acquired by a larger company and has caught up to DSL in terms of technology and in some ways surpasses it, plus AT&T has regressed by slapping all their wired broadband customers with bandwidth caps themselves, so the decision’s no longer cut and dried.

When Net Neutrality advocates mention the blossoming of the online world because of a free and open internet this era in the 2000s no doubt is at least partially being referenced.  However, let’s consider the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and the development of all this social stuff in light of broadband’s advances during that decade.  It used to be that going on the Internet was just some geeky thing you did with a computer during the heydays of dialup.  When Web 2.0 was taking off though, Internet activity had become a mainstream activity and showed the potential to replace other more traditional forms of getting information or being entertained such as print media, radio, TV, phone service, etc.  By then it was only natural to start implementing these social features in because broadband was becoming more widely available and brought with it all of its perks that allow for more mainstream entertainment over the internet than the HTML dialup-friendly pages of the 90s.

This time around, the issue is not broadband technology itself or even PCs for that matter, but the recent non-PC explosion that some are erroneously calling “The Post PC Era.”

I’m long overdue to make some kind of YouTube video chiming in on the whole “Post-PC” thing, but for now it’ll suffice to say that I’m more in agreement with folks like Steve Ballmer on this issue.  It’s not that PCs are on their way out, just that they’re sharing the stage with other devices that people can use as “personal computing devices.”  After all, “personal computer” is what PC is supposed to stand for.  This whole thing of tying the concept of personal computers to specific form factors like desktops or laptops is really nothing more than socially acceptable ad populum ignorance.

This “mobile internet” thing is going to be a side effect of all that.  It’s not that “we will never have Web 3.0, because the web’s dead” as the Forbes article states on page 2, but that the World Wide Web is back to where it was when this World Wide Web stuff first took off, as just one way to access Internet content.  Oh yeah folks.  Remember what “The Internet” used to mean back in the 1990s, or the whole “World Wide Web” thing back when we used to say the whole term instead of abbreviating it?  Just because the World Wide Web has all-but-monopolized what people are talking about when they mention “The Internet” doesn’t mean the concept is true, just like how we shouldn’t think desktops and laptops monopolize what it means for something to be a “personal computer.”

When I see people standing on soapboxes like this I begin to wonder if maybe there’s some money being exchanged somewhere behind the scenes.  Did this author get paid off by somebody to write something like this in such a high profile news source or something?  😛  Granted, anyone at this point who is starting any kind of web page is shooting themselves in the foot if they don’t consider making some kind of mobile-friendly version, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call the World Wide Web a dinosaur, much less predict the demise of Google and Facebook.  If Google and Facebook go under, I’m sure changing times won’t be the only reason.  There’ve been other things going on too that might run the risk of users defecting en masse to something else.  Facebook Timeline comes to mind.  Hmmmmm…   🙂

Facebook Bomb Scare – Seriously? =(

Looks like social media stuff isn’t going to stay out of the news anytime soon.  I give up.  😛

Manchester Patch – Facebook Posts Lead To Bomb Scare At Manchester High

I originally posted the WFSB article on this but yanked it after yet another sensationalist headline on their part.  I’ve been seeing some sloppy journalism on the likes of which I haven’t seen in years.  They actually made it sound like a bomb threat rather than a bomb scare.  There’s quite a bit of difference between those two terms and between that and the sloppy news coverage I’ve been seeing from them lately I think some changes are in order in terms of what sites I check for news.  :-\